Another feather in the cap for BIG OIL as a former BP employee Kurt Mix was arrested and charged with two counts of obstruction of justice in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.
If convicted, Mix could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count.
Federal Clean Water Act fines against BP and other responsible parties will be based on the amount of oil released during the spill. The act allows for penalties of $1,100 per barrel, and those penalties can increase to $4,300 if the discharge is the result of gross negligence.
“The department has filed initial charges in its investigation into the Deepwater Horizon disaster against an individual for allegedly deleting records relating to the amount of oil flowing from the Macondo well after the explosion that led to the devastating tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “The Deepwater Horizon Task Force is continuing its investigation into the explosion and will hold accountable those who violated the law in connection with the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.”
The allegations center on messages Mix sent to BP officials and contractors describing BP’s much-ballyhooed three-day attempt to plug the out-of-control well May 28 in a procedure called Top Kill, which was announced by BP officials on May 24.
“Mix deleted numerous electronic records relating to the Deepwater Horizon disaster response, including records concerning the amount of oil potentially flowing from the well,” FBI Agent Barbara O’Donnell said in an affidavit filed in support of the complaint against Mix, “after being repeatedly informed of his obligation to maintain such records and after it became apparent that his electronic records were to be collected by an outside vendor retained by BP’s counsel to collect electronic documents.”